Ayurveda is an ancient, natural medical system developed alongside Yoga. It looks at each person as an individual – you won’t find a “one size fits all” diagnosis or treatment here. Instead, we start by looking at specific aspects of your physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral makeup to identify your native constitution (Dosha). Next, we determine where you’re out of balance. Finally, we look at your symptoms and establish what the root cause is of your particular health issues. We can often tie your symptoms to imbalances in your constitution, developing a plan using diet, lifestyle adjustments, herbs, and other methods to help bring you back to balance.
What are Doshas?
There are three metabolic types in Ayurvedic medicine, known as the Doshas (or constitutions): Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are defined by specific properties:
- Vata is a combination of air and space, and is associated with dryness, movement, and a feeling of lightness or airiness. People with this as their predominant Dosha tend to be thin with small bones, impulsive, and creative. When out of balance, Vata can bring anxiety and a sense of being ungrounded.
- Pitta is a combination of fire and water, and is associated with heat, dampness, acidity, and sharpness. People with this as their predominant Dosha tend to be medium build with stable weight, have intense personalities, and are strong leaders. When out of balance, they can be quick to anger and jealous or judgmental.
- Kapha is a combination of water and earth, and is associated with heaviness, coldness, stability, and nourishment. People with this as their predominant Dosha have a large bone structure and a dense, muscular body type, are loyal, nurturing, and steady/well grounded. When Kapha is out of balance, it tends to bring extra weight, sluggishness, and a sense of laziness or lack of motivation.
We are each made up of a unique combination of these three types, with one or two typically standing out. If a Dosha is imbalanced, correcting diet and lifestyle can bring you back to balance. If left unchecked, an imbalance can lead to illness… which can often be treated with corrections to diet and lifestyle.
By working with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine your individual native constitution and potential imbalances, you can learn to make choices that help you thrive!
Ayurveda asks us to connect with the cycles of nature – your diet and lifestyle should shift with the seasons to support your native constitution. It also helps to align your personal daily habits with some common sense approaches, such as eating your largest meal in the middle of the day to optimize your digestion and keeping a regular sleep schedule. Other approaches include adjusting your exercise and introducing meditation (it’s not all about sitting in silence) in order to develop a well rounded approach to your health.
What about my regular doctor?
Ayurveda can be a good complement to traditional Western medicine. We strongly encourage you to continue your relationship with your medical health care provider, and we try to coordinate care when we can. More and more MDs are recognizing the benefits of gentle, natural ways to treat symptoms such as hypertension, heartburn, and anxiety. Other natural care providers such as Naturopaths and Acupuncturists are often happy to work alongside an Ayurvedic practitioner, and your health will benefit from our cooperation.